Singapore’s former Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who resigned from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) earlier this year, scored a landslide victory on Saturday to become the city-state’s ninth president, replacing Halimah Yacob.
More than 2.48 million votes were cast, with 50,152 rejected votes. While Tharman grabbed 70.4% of the votes in a crushing victory in the presidential contest, the other two candidates, Ng Kok Song and Tan Kin Lian, won 15.72% and 13.88% of the valid votes, respectively.
The former PAP member’s victory foiled expectations that he would be hurt by recent political scandals surrounding his ex-colleagues. The race had come against a backdrop of high-profile scandals, raising frustration among Singaporeans already grappling with high living costs.
The resignations of two ruling party lawmakers, a rare graft investigation involving a cabinet minister and outcry over ministers renting plush state-owned properties have grabbed the spotlight in the tiny city-state, usually a beacon of stable and corruption-free politics.
Singaporeans Generally Still Trust The Ruling People’s Action Party
Friday marked Singapore’s third presidential contest since a 1991 act vested the public with the power to choose. The position is a largely ceremonial one with custodial powers over the use of the country’s vast but undisclosed reserves and appointment of key public officials.
The three candidates met stringent criteria to run for the contest to replace Yacob for a six-year term, with Ng and Tan later effectively conceding the race. Tharman had encountered questions during the campaign over whether the PAP’s recent scandals would hurt his chances.
“I am truly humbled by the strong endorsement you have given me in our nation’s presidential election,” he said of the promising results. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a statement he had called Tharman and assured him of the administration’s complete support.
The newly-elected president has also declared his intention to work closely with the PAP government, PM Lee added. Analysts said Tharman’s landslide victory in the presidential race indicates Singaporeans generally still trust the ruling party despite its many scandals.